The morphological development of the leaf greatly influences plant architecture and crop yields. The maize leaf is composed of a leaf blade, ligule and sheath. Although extensive transcriptional profiling of the tissues along the longitudinal axis of the developing maize leaf blade has been conducted, little is known about the transcriptional dynamics in sheath tissues, which play important roles in supporting the leaf blade. Using a comprehensive transcriptome dataset, we demonstrated that the leaf sheath transcriptome dynamically changes during maturation, with the construction of basic cellular structures at the earliest stages of sheath maturation with a transition to cell wall biosynthesis and modifications. The transcriptome again changes with photosynthesis and lignin biosynthesis at the last stage of sheath tissue maturation. The different tissues of the maize leaf are highly specialized in their biological functions and we identified 15 genes expressed at significantly higher levels in the leaf sheath compared with their expression in the leaf blade, including the BOP2 homologs GRMZM2G026556 and GRMZM2G022606, DOGT1 (GRMZM2G403740) and transcription factors from the B3 domain, C2H2 zinc finger and homeobox gene families, implicating these genes in sheath maturation and organ specialization.